Walk like a [gender non-specific] man…

by MW Cook

Every morning and evening I read a neat little devotional called Daily Light on the Daily Path. It’s neat because instead of reading a verse and a commentary this guy brings a bunch of different verses on the same subject together to form a little devotional. I’ve found it a refreshing way to start and end the day. I like the fact that it’s only Bible so I’m not meditating on someone’s comments on the Bible, but the Bible itself.

I was just reading it this evening and the compiler brought two verses together that, though they are from totally different contexts, fit together in an amazing way. Ephesians 3:3 and John 3:7 :

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. – Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Why should we not marvel that Christ says to be born again? Why should we not marvel when Christ says you must leave everything you have ever thought valuable in order to follow him? Why should we not marvel that Christ bids a man to come and die? Why should we not marvel that every single part of our being must be made new before it can be acceptable to him? Because by nature we are children of wrath. Foolish, disobedient, slaves to passion, malice, envy, hate, lust, greed, gluttony, laziness, cowardice, jealousy, evil thoughts, lazy thoughts, ignorant thoughts, pride, superficiality, faithlessness, joylessness, restlessness. We should not marvel that we must be made new because of how totally screwed up we are when we start this journey!

I got a neat little bicycle. It’s one of those old-style 50s bikes that are popular here. I ride like a Pakistani. That means me, Joseph and mom all fit on it together. Don’t ask how, just believe it. My back wheel always gives me trouble, since the day I bought it. It kept on getting punctured and it screwed the bike up for a while. I used to just try to patch the hole when it blew, but it would always get another puncture a few days later. Eventually I realized that I had to go out and get a brand-new inner tube. Things are going better thus far. Maybe a screwy analogy, but we’re like a back wheel. When we come out of the store our inner-tube is kinda screwed to begin with, though not because the shopkeeper wanted to rip off the white guy buying the bike, but because the stuff we’re made out of was corrupted from the original batch of rubber. As a result of this we will never be able to be a useful wheel, even if we try to patch ourselves up every time we blow. Patches made out of morality, civility, legal codes and whatnot cannot help us. In fact, they change us into something different from what we were supposed to be. The only solution is to get a new inner-tube.

I think that some people imagine that joining up with Christianity is like hopping into a mold. Christians on TV, movies, books, and even often in real-life seem to have the exact same kind of personality and mannerisms. I think this is because sometimes we have a certain picture of what a Christian should be and we try to mold ourselves into that, instead of trying to passionately love Jesus. When we start trying to shape personality quirks to match the contemporary view of Christendom we are really just putting patches on the same, crappy inner-tube.

The New Birth is not a transformation into a quirky, cute, western sub-culture. The movie Saved! pointed out this nasty problem that we have. We figure out what a Christian is supposed to think, do, eat and say and we try to do. Problem is that Christ didn’t command “do” so much as he commanded “be”. He said “You must be born again.” Regeneration is not something you do. It’s something that is done to you. We’re so friggin’ screwed up that there is no way in heaven or hell that we could pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and do it ourselves. The church is so wrapped up in trying to have the right image and show people that we do the right thing that we are forgetting to be. Once we become passionate, radical, loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, hopeful, lovers of Christ, then the do will take care of itself.

So let’s throw ourselves into the path of his grace and beg it would roll all over us.